What's the most reliable type of car?

Is a small hatchback more dependable than a luxury saloon? Will a people-carrier break down more than a sports car? We reveal the classes that suffer from the least – and most – faults, and the b...

1. What's the most reliable type of car?
Broken down car on a recovery truck
Peugeot 107
Fiat Panda
BMW Z4
Mercedes-Benz SLK
Skoda Superb
Jaguar XE
Hyundai i30
Vauxhall Astra
Honda CR-V
Range Rover Sport
Ford B-Max
Ford S-Max
Skoda Fabia
Citroen DS3
Volkswagen Tiguan
Peugeot 3008
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The old saying that if there’s more kit on a car, there’s more to go wrong certainly appears to hold true when you compare the reliability of cars in different classes.

Luxury SUVs are among the best equipped, but also the most fault-prone of the eight classes we looked at; 35% of luxury SUVs had a fault, while only 21% of city cars had a problem.

In some cases, the difference in dependability can be pinned on the type of engine under the bonnet. For example, 39% of diesel-engined luxury SUVs had faults, while just 23% of their petrol-engined counterparts did. And 33% of diesel family cars had problems, compared with 24% of petrol family cars.

City runabouts, which are predominantly petrol-engined, were the most dependable of all conventional cars. In fact, petrol outshone diesel in all except one of the car categories we looked at; only diesel convertibles had fewer faults than their petrol siblings, and the difference was less than one percentage point.

Our research is based on data gathered from more than 14,200 car owners about cars aged up to 10 years old. It covers 31 brands and 169 models, and has been split into eight classes: city car, coupé and convertible, executive car, family car, large and luxury SUV, MPV, small car and small SUV.

Car faults by class and fuel type

| Car class | Overall faults | Diesel faults | Petrol faults | |----------------------|-----------------|----------------|----------------| | City car | 21% | n/a |21%| | Coupé and convertible | 30% | 30% |29% | | Executive car | 28% | 29% |25% | | Family car | 28% | 33% |24% | | Large and luxury SUV | 33% | 36% | 24% | | MPV | 37% | 40% |32% | | Small car | 28% | 33% |27% | | Small SUV | 29% |31% |25% |

Read on to find out which is the most – and least – dependable car in each class.

Read the full What Car? reliability survey results

The best brands were virtually fault-free, while more than 44% of the worst brands had been afflicted by a problem. See our slideshow to find out which are the most – and least – dependable brands.

Help us to keep car buyers informed by completing the 2018 What Car? reliability survey. Everyone who completes it is in with the chance of winning £250

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